Gay rights activist reappointed to NI Equality Commission

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

One of Northern Ireland’s most vocal advocates for gay rights has been reappointed to the province’s Equality Commission.

James Knox is co-chair of the Coalition on Sexual Orientation (CoSO), an umbrella body that works with local authorities to promote equality.

It seeks to ensure that the concerns of the LGBT community are adequately articulated and acted upon.

“I am delighted to have been reappointed to the Equality Commission,” Mr Knox told

“The Commission has, for many years now, worked towards the elimination of discrimination in all of the protected equality grounds, including sexual orientation.

“Recent controversial comments made it clear that while good legislation covering sexual orientation and gender is in place that there is, for some, still a very long way to travel before LGBT people and others can command full equality and enjoy respect in Northern Ireland.”

DUP MP Iris Robinson has generated considerable publicity in the last few months by claiming that gay people could be turned straight by a psychiatrist and comparing homosexual acts to child abuse.

The Equality Commission was established in 1999, as part of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is responsible for policing the statutory duty on all public authorities in Northern Ireland to have due regard to the need to promote equality of opportunity across a range of areas including religion, political opinion, gender, race, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability and those with and without dependants.

Chief Commissioner Bob Collins, and two other Commissioners, Bryan Johnston and Elaine Waterson, were also reappointed.

“Under the leadership and direction of Bob Collins for the last three years, the Commission has continued to carry out its crucial role in promoting and protecting equality in Northern Ireland,” said Shaun Woodward, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

“A key institution of the Belfast Agreement, the Commission’s value cannot be underestimated in the continuing advancement of the Government’s vision for a shared and inclusive society in Northern Ireland.”